Can you feel it?

The anticipation, excitement, hope, and wonder in the air as Christmas approaches? Or have you gotten too focused on the shopping, baking, decorating, and list-making to notice?

Christmas is the season of anticipation. The four weeks leading up to December 25 are called Advent, defined by Wikipedia “as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas and the return of Jesus at the Second Coming.”

The Jewish people, at the time of Jesus’ birth, had been waiting expectantly several hundred years for the promised Messiah. Mary and Joseph anticipated the birth of the baby, perhaps only partly understanding the significance of what was about to happen. The Wise Men studied the skies and predicted the birth of a king and traveled a great distance in order to worship Him.

For most of us today, the weeks before Christmas are a time when we look forward to spending time with family, perhaps taking some time off from work, and wondering what we might receive as gifts–or eagerly waiting the gifts we’ve asked for and know we’re getting. For others, this may be a season of dreading the loneliness and depression of the holiday.

Either way, if we know the importance and meaning of Christmas, this can be a time of celebration, for the Savior of the world stepped down from heaven into a humble manger. He lived and died on earth so that we can spend eternity with Him in heaven. We have only to take the step of allowing Him to live in our heart.

This Christmas, I hope you not only anticipate the holiday with joy but also look forward in faith to Jesus’ return–or to the day when you join Him in heaven. Each of those events, whichever comes first, will be cause for celebration for all who worship Him.

May you have an expectant, joy-filled Christmas.

For a child has been born—for us!
the gift of a son—for us!
He’ll take over
the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
Strong God,
Eternal Father,
Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow,
and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.

(Isaiah 9:6-7, MSG)